Black women authors are staking their claim in Sci-fi, fantasy and beyond. If you find yourself daydreaming about booking a flight to Wakanda, head to your local bookseller instead and pick up one (or all) of these books.
Black Panther's ability to envelop its audience in a visually arresting re-imagining of Africa never gets old. It’s difficult to witness T’Challa’s determination, Princess Shuri’s brilliance, and Killmonger’s passion without yearning for more and wishing that all of it was real. Five minutes into the original Marvel film, and it’s clear that Ryan Coogler has created an Afrofuturist masterpiece well-deserving of acclaim. So, if you find yourself daydreaming about booking a flight to Wakanda, head to your local bookseller instead and pick up one—or all—of these books.
The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred
By Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
In her ode to physics, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Ph.D., entices readers to join in her love affair with science. Peppered with a healthy dose of Black feminism and pride, Disordered Cosmos (Bold Type Books, $24.99) offers a deeper understanding of a fascinating field while also sparking wonder about the night sky.
Trouble the Waters: Tales From the Deep Blue
Edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Pan Morrigan, and Troy L. Wiggins
Coedited by two-time World Fantasy Awards winner Sheree Renée Thomas, who’s behind the groundbreaking 2000 anthology Dark Matter, Trouble the Waters (Third Man Books, $17.95) may offer more than enough to delight book lovers of any genre. With promises of technosavvy water spirits, space whales, and more, a universe is waiting to be discovered inside the pages. Nalo Hopkinson, adrienne maree brown, Linda D. Addison, and Susana Morris are a few of the noted writers who contribute to the collection.
The Merciless Ones
By Namina Forna
Last year, Spelman alum Namina Forna hit with her first effort, The Gilded Ones, an epic YA fantasy novel inspired by her Sierra Leonean roots. The story follows 16-year-old Deka, who joins the kingdom of Otera’s army of girls and fights deadly creatures. The Merciless Ones (Delacorte Press, $17.99) picks up six months later as Deka continues discovering herself and coming into the powers that could help her protect them all.
Ashes of Gold
By J. Elle
Former educator J. Elle’s highly anticipated sequel, Ashes of Gold (Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $19.99), continues where her successful New York Times best-selling debut, Wings of Ebony, left off. Rue, our heroine from the tough East Row, finds herself imprisoned in a basement without her magic or her allies. Getting free, however, is just the beginning. Deciding whom to trust and how to be the leader her people deserve might just be her biggest obstacle.
By Rivers Solomon
Creative license gives some of the most talented the freedom to weave tales only they could imagine. Rivers Solomon does just that in Sorrowland (MCD, $27). Labeled a “gothic techno-thriller” by one reviewer, the story features an exciting hero, Vern, who goes through a metamorphosis so she can protect herself and her children against a world full of pain and rage.
Redwood and Wildfire
By Andrea Hairston
A rerelease from acclaimed Master of Poisons author and selfproclaimed “Afrofuturist” Andrea Hairston, Redwood and Wildfire (Tordotcom, $27.99), originally published in 2011 by feminist-leaning indie Aqueduct Press, still captivates. A bold early- 20th-century tale set in the world of minstrel and vaudeville shows during a time of mass migration, the novel follows two performers, a Black woman and a Seminole Irish man, who embark on an engrossing journey through haunted swampland to a futuristic city.
Witches Steeped in Gold
By Ciannon Smart
Witches who are sworn enemies strike a precarious alliance in Ciannon Smart’s impressive Jamaican-inspired debut, Witches Steeped in Gold (HarperTeen, $18.99). Alternating between two compelling female protagonists, this book reads like a complex web of intrigue and power plays that’s hard to put down.
The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer
By Janelle Monáe
From Janelle Monáe comes a collection of stories as unique as her music. Created in collaboration with acclaimed female and nonbinary writers Alaya Dawn Johnson, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Danny Lore, and Sheree Renée Thomas, The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer (Harper Voyager, $28.99) expands on Monáe’s own visionary work as an Afrofuturist and genre-bending creative.